South Africa is committed to enhancing investor confidence and positioning itself as one of the leading emerging market investment destinations, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday.
The South African government is aiming to generate at least half of all new investment over the next five years from outside its borders, Ramaphosa said at the SA-UK Investor Roundtable in Cape Town on the sidelines of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s one-day working visit to South Africa.
“Through my four investment envoys and the efforts of a dedicated division of the Department of Trade and Industry, Invest SA, we are scaling up our investment promotion, facilitation and aftercare services,” Ramaphosa said.
Earlier this year, Ramaphosa announced an ambitious investment drive that aims to generate at least 100 billion U.S. dollars in new investment over the next five years. He has dispatched four special envoys to go on a charm offensive around the globe to attract investment.
The investment drive will culminate in an Investment Conference on October 25-27 this year, which will bring together investors both from within South Africa and from other parts of the world, Ramaphosa told guests at the SA-UK Investor Roundtable.
“We are looking forward to welcoming British investors to this conference, both those who have long been invested in South Africa looking to expand their operations and those who would be investing here for the first time,” he said.
The UK is one of the largest foreign investors in the South African economy with more than 650 British firms present at the market, according to Ramaphosa.
“We see foreign direct investment as a critical driver of economic growth,” he said.
He said his government is working earnestly to bring policy certainty in areas such as mining, telecommunications and energy, hoping to restore South Africa’s sovereign ratings, which are currently at junk status, to investment grade status.
“Through my four investment envoys and the efforts of a dedicated division of the Department of Trade and Industry, Invest SA, we are scaling up our investment promotion, facilitation and aftercare services,” he said.
South Africa is improving the investment environment by, among other things, ensuring policy certainty and consistency, improving the performance of state-owned enterprises and consolidating fiscal debt, said Ramaphosa.
“Our approach is informed by the understanding that we cannot achieve sustained economic growth or enduring social stability without ensuring more South Africans are able to participate in the productive economy,” he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, May pledged that her country will become the G7’s biggest investor in Africa by 2022.
She said at the British High Commission in Cape Town that the UK will invest up to 4 billion pound (about 5.2 billion U.S. dollars) in Africa, with a special focus on creating jobs for young people.
May was on her first African tour since taking office in 2016. She will also visit Nigeria and Kenya.
After meeting May, Ramaphosa told reporters that he and May made a renewed commitment to forge a closer partnership between the two countries.
“We have noted with great satisfaction the strong relationship between South Africa and the United Kingdom in wide-ranging areas of cooperation, including energy, science and technology, education, health, arts and culture,” he said.
May said she wished to deepen the friendship as the UK was one of South Africa’s largest trade partners.
She said her government would continue to fully support the South African drive to attract investment and wanted to see British companies play a central role in this.